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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Bigger is Better for High Performance Computer Firm

Megabytes? Too small. Gigabytes? Still not enough. At DataDirect Systems, terabytes and pedabytes are the units of measurement the Chatsworth company uses in its storage systems used in supercomputing applications and rich media applications for the entertainment industry. DataDirect has given itself a competitive edge in its area of the industry by creating solutions that meet the challenge customers face of wanting to extract large amounts of data in real time to work with it as they need. “If they move from one project to another more quickly they can do more problems and the supercomputer is not just sitting there,” said Bob Woolery, vice president of product marketing for DataDirect. “Time is money to them.” The same applies to rich media applications such as animation or special effects used in films where there is no waiting for a large file to be downloaded to a work station. “Everybody can continue to work and nobody has to slow down,” Woolery said. DataDirect was formed in 1998 from the merger of two other companies Mega Drive Systems in Chatsworth and ImpactData, in Monrovia. The company released its first storage systems in 2000. The firm’s products are now used in half of the 50 supercomputing centers around the country. Recently, DataDirect was chosen by NASA to supply storage at the Goddard Space Flight Center for studying weather and climate variability and studying astrophysical phenomena. DataDirect is in a sector of the computer industry that is growing at a rate of 20 percent per year, according to Robert Gray, an analyst with IDC, a consulting firm for the information technology, consumer technology and telecommunications markets. The Infinband technology used as the connection between a computer and storage system is not a mainstream product and geared for a niche market of high performance computing, Gray said. Companies such as DataDirect will likely grow because the high performance computing world is never satisfied with the equipment it uses, Gray said. “They want more,” Gray said. “These are people who are underserved and they are looking for a competitive edge.” Competing companies do not create systems with the density or capacity that DataDirect does, Woolery said, adding that three to five of a competitor’s systems will equal one from DataDirect. A storage system the size of a floor tile can hold one quarter of a pedabyte of information. A pedabyte is equal to 1,000 terabytes, or 1 trillion bits of information. In getting word out about its products, Woolery said that customers make the best salespeople. Like-minded users talk to each other, be it those running the supercomputing centers, auto designers, or engineers simulating and modeling in life science projects. “These people call us because we have been there for other folks with our products,” Woolery said. Other DataDirect clients include Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Studios, E! Networks, Laurence Livermore National Laboratories, the BBC, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Time Warner Cable. At the National Association of Broadcasters convention in April, DataDirect demonstrated how its storage systems can be applied to burgeoning digital uses with equipment that allows for six concurrent 2K streams or two concurrent 4K streams of content. That allows for more work to be done in less time because multiple users can work on the same file, Woolery said. The faster and denser storage created by the company is also used for online services, Woolery said. “If you’re waiting for a site to load the customer is unhappy and moves on to another site,” Woolery. “That’s no way to keep customers.”

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